Holiday revelers will need a ticket to see Rockefeller Center’s iconic Christmas tree, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged people Sunday to stay away if they can’t obtain one.
De Blasio said city and state officials want to limit crowds around Rockefeller Center — one of the city’s most popular holiday destinations — to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 26,000 people across New York State.
"What we do not want and can’t have is large crowds of people trying to get close," de Blasio said during his daily coronavirus briefing. "It’s just not safe."
Like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade this year, the Wednesday night event will take place with pandemic-related restrictions.
There will be no public access to the annual tree-lighting ceremony but it will be broadcast on NBC, according to Rockefeller Center’s website.
Some streets and lanes of traffic around Rockefeller Center will be closed to give visitors more room for social distancing, according to the mayor.
"This is not a spectator event like it’s been in the past and we all need to stay safe and we need to avoid crowds," de Blasio said.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which normally travels a 2.5-mile route through Manhattan and draws millions of observers, was turned into a made-for-TV event this year, also to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
This year’s tree, a 75-foot Norway spruce, arrived at Rockefeller Center on Nov. 14. It has been ripped on social media for its scraggly appearance, with some commentators calling it a metaphor for 2020 and others comparing it to the scrawny sapling featured in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the beloved 1965 holiday special.
Rockefeller Center officials have said the tree, which was transported earlier this month from upstate Oneonta, will look beautiful and full after its branches settle.
An owl who hitched a ride to New York City was discovered in the tree. The owl, dubbed "Rocky," was treated at a wildlife center in upstate Saugerties and returned to the wild.